If a gearhead friend wanted to bet you that a production SUV could beat a Ferrari 458 over one of the world’s twistiest roads, you’d probably take the bet thinking it was a sure thing. And, if the SUV was a Range Rover Sport SVR, you would lose. That’s right, the SVR recently covered the Tianmen Road in China, a two-lane road having 99 turns in almost seven miles with an uphill elevation change of about 4,000 feet, besting the existing record set by a modified Ferrari 458 Italia by some 40 seconds.
Range Rover Sport SVR beats Ferrari
The Sport SVR is the performance flagship of the Range Rover family, and it recently showed that it deserves the title by setting the fastest recorded time up one of the twistiest roads in the world – China’s Tianmen Road. Driven by Le Mans class winner and Panasonic Jaguar Racing reserve/test driver Ho-Pin Tung, the nimble Sport SVR clawed its way through the 99-turn, seven-mile long road in 9 minutes and 51 seconds, averaging 42.8 mph. The old record, set by Italian driver Fabio Barone in his Ferrari 458 Italia, was 10 minutes and 31 seconds.
The happy driver commented afterwards on the unique challenges he faced: “I am used to the high speeds of racing, but these 99 turns were something unique. Maintaining concentration was the biggest challenge as the road twists and turns constantly, with huge drop-offs to the side. The consequences of getting it wrong would have been really serious so I focused on establishing a rhythm and the Range Rover Sport SVR made this easy – it may be an SUV but it has the performance and agility of a supercar, and can take you to places a supercar can only dream of.”
Range Rover Sport SVR upgraded for 2018
For 2018, the Range Rover Sport SVR continues as the fastest Land Rover vehicle ever. The five-liter, supercharged V8 engine, coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission, propels the 5,093 pound SVR from 0 to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds under hard acceleration while the SVR’s two-stage active exhaust makes enough delightful throaty sounds to satisfy anyone’s muscle car genes. Top speed is around 175 mph. The rapid performance of the SVR does not detract from its traditional Range Rover off-road capabilities. All-wheel drive is standard equipment, as are air suspension and a two-speed transfer case for serious off-roading.
The SVR chassis for 2018 has been tweaked by Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations to provide better dynamic responses, including improved turn-in, mid-corner grip, and body control without compromising traditional Range Rover luxury and comfort. A lighter body contributes to the improved ride and handling, thanks to a carbon fiber hood and new lightweight SVR performance seats that still provide superior support and traditional Range Rover luxury. Heating comes standard with the new seats and cooling is an option. Other standard features include a powered tailgate, rear view camera, cruise control, a full virtual instrument cluster, and a three-zone climate control, as well as safety items such as blind spot monitors, auto emergency braking, and lane departure warning.
The Tianmen Road
Tianmen Mountain is a famous Chinese tourist attraction noted for its vertical cliffs, glass walkways that extend out from the side of the mountain, a glass bridge that spans 1,410 feet over a deep canyon, and the world’s longest cable car ride. The cableway is 4.6 miles long with a height difference of about 4,200 feet where the steepest gradient is about 37 degrees. The view from the cable cars include, of course, the Tianmen Road, also known as “Heaven-Linking Avenue” that goes to the top of the 4,900-foot mountain.
Tianmen Road is a tour bus route up and down the mountain, which generates its own excitement because of the steep drop-off at the side of the road. Many tourists become overwhelmed by the ride up the mountain even before they encounter the sensations of looking down through the glass-floored walkways or the glass bridge. One can imagine the feelings of driver Ho-Pin Tung as he pushed his Range Rover Sport SVR up the mountain as fast as he could – any mistake could prove to be disastrous. The website Twisted Sifter named Tianmen Road one of the “21 Roads You Have to Drive in Your Lifetime” on its list of the most “beautiful, challenging and unforgettable roads in the world.”
Is the Range Rover Sport SVR the best all-around SUV on the market today? It would be difficult to think of another vehicle that can do all of the things the SVR does with aplomb – it seats five adults in supreme comfort and luxury; it has 28 cu. ft. of cargo space behind the second row of seats so you can take everything you have with you; it can go at a snail’s pace in any off-road environment; and it can go as fast as you’re willing to go anywhere else. Although John Edwards, the Managing Director of Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations may be a bit biased, we’ll let him have the last word: “The Range Rover Sport SVR is truly the world’s most capable performance SUV.”
We’d like to thank the fine folks at Land Rover for the use of their video of the Range Rover Sport SVT challenging the Tianmen Road. For more details of the SVT or other models in the Range Rover lineup, please see the Range Rover website.
Range Rover Sport SVT – https://www.landroverusa.com/vehicles/new-range-rover-sport/svr/index.html
Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tianmen_Mountain
Twisted Sifter – http://twistedsifter.com/2013/03/roads-to-drive-before-you-die/
China Highlights – https://www.chinahighlights.com/zhangjiajie/attraction/tianmen-mountain.htm
Zhangjiajie Local Tour – http://www.zhangjiajietourism.com/index.php?m=content&c=index&a=show&catid=8&id=48
Photos by: Land Rover, Raki_Man